Credit information: Reading a credit report

Tenant credit screening is standard procedure for landlords and rental managers, so it is often a good idea for applicants looking to sign a lease to check their own credit report first.

There may be some differences depending on which credit reporting agency is the source of the report, but these are mainly formatting. They all collect the same types of information.

Separate sections will be devoted to identifying the subject of the report, listing any courthouse records of tax liens or other financial judgments, employment history and inquiries into his or her credit.

Accounts that have gone into collections may have their own section or sub-section with the other accounts. For credit history, each account will have several pieces of information. This begins with the company reporting the information, account number, date the account was opened and whose account it is. This may include joint accounts, individual accounts, accounts with co-owners and more.

The most recent report date, activity on the account, balance and any amount past due at that time will also be recorded. To give an idea of performance over time, other information includes the highest credit charged on an account, how long the account has been reported on and the payment schedule and timeliness of payments so far.